A Wet Blanket PSA On Fun Viral Content That Does Not Appear To Be Super COVID-Safe

In this week's newsletter: Influencers are pushing Christmas up even earlier this year — but it may not be a bad idea, and I (Tanya) party-poop on some fun TikToks because of Third Wave COVID.

This is an excerpt from Please Like Me, BuzzFeed News’ newsletter about how influencers are battling for your attention. You can sign up here.

I am embracing Christmas creep in 2020

Last weekend, I had the rather belated idea to buy a few pieces of Halloween decor for my house before the holiday. However, when I went to both HomeGoods and TJMaxx, I realized I had missed the boat. Most of the Halloween decorations were gone, and Christmas filled the stores.

Then, I went onto Instagram and saw THIS from influencer Amber Massey.

For the past few years, I have (jokingly) complained about the fact that Christmas on Instagram seems to start earlier and earlier (in fact, last year I did so in this very newsletter). But Amber’s tree is low-key hilarious. It takes a certain amount of gumption to put up your Christmas tree before Halloween and just say: fuck it.

I’m pretty into it, actually. Amber also has started to talk all about her Christmas decor this week on her Instagram stories. (I guess it makes sense since it’s all we can buy anyway!)

I posted about Amber’s tree on my Instagram stories, and I was pretty surprised at the response. Many people told me that while in previous years they had been annoyed by Christmas creep before Thanksgiving on Instagram, this year they were embracing it.

Why? There are a few reasons, but most are, naturally, symptoms of ~these times~. First of all, everyone wants this year to end ASAP, as it has sucked. Some people speculated that maybe everyone is rushing through to Christmas decor because they feel like it will make time go faster, and that we will finally reach 2021. Of course, things won’t magically get better once the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31, but I get the sentiment. We all are clinging to the hope that things will start to improve, and the new year embodies that hope in a way that makes sense.

The second argument? Let people enjoy things. Nothing about this year has been normal, and a lot of the fun we usually get to have has been canceled. Christmas probably won’t be normal either, as many of us won’t be able to gather with family and friends the same way. So, if someone wants to put up their tree in October because it makes them happy, why not? If they want to have two and a half months of “Christmas” for their kids, who are we to judge? Nothing makes sense right now anyway, so why can’t we just do something weird, like talk about Santa before Halloween? Is that any weirder than the rest of 2020?

I have thought about this argument, and have decided I am in. I actually appreciate influencers who are doing things like this and not apologizing for it. Amber’s Christmas in October charms me, it doesn’t annoy me. I am all for doing whatever the hell we want in our own homes in 2020. Don’t we deserve it?

Merry Hallothanksmas!

— Stephanie McNeal

And now: A wet blanket PSA on fun viral content that does not appear to be super COVID-safe

OK, here I go — it’s Tanya, reporting live from inside my quarantine chamber and feeling all types of ways about a few recent TikTok videos that have gone viral.

I have internal strife about writing this PSA, because it will come off as not-fun finger-wagging. I love TikTok, it’s helped me through the unnerving pandemic. So, I am reluctant to criticize something that I feel very attached to. I don’t want to override the very posi impacts these TikToks have on our collective well-being, but I also cannot neglect the morsel of concern I have about what we’re seeing in strangers’ lives.

Take the extremely viral TikTok of moms lip-syncing to “Potential Breakup Song” by Aly & AJ. It’s been viewed almost 55 million times since it was posted about two weeks ago. A band of “fun moms” sing along to the mid-aughts hit in a crowded bar. I, like so many others, am obsessed with this video. They look like they’re having so much fun and being so earnest in their performances.

During any other time, I would like to be invited to their girls-night-out-margaritas-on-deck-at-TGI Fridays extravaganza. But now, I am baffled by the scene behind them. They’re in a crowded bar, moving around, without masks — actually, hardly anyone in the bar seems to have one on. It looks like a scene that completely omits the reality that the rest of us are living in.

Understandably, the TikTok is full of bantery comments that get voted to the top. But as you scroll down, a second wave (heyyyy) of comments are calling them out. “Omg is COVID over ????” one person wrote facetiously. “If they’re not worried for themselves, then you shouldn’t be either … don’t be ~annoying~,” a commenter wrote back.

Another viral TikTok posted earlier this week shows a room full of friends reacting hilariously to a guy giving an impressive snapping performance. The performance is very impressive. Their reactions as the camera focuses on each person in the room are also very amusing. But as the camera panned around, I was a bit stunned to see how many people were congregated there.

Look, in any other time, and in any other setting, these types of content could be enjoyed purely on their own. I love these videos individually. But we simply are not living in another time or setting — we’re living in this one! With real-life consequences! And those consequences are grave!

I’m hesitant to point these things out because I don’t want to ruin a “good” thing for people. But I can’t be complicit and not call attention to these things, because we can no longer enjoy “good” content in a vacuum.

To the fun moms and young people in these viral TikToks I’ve used as examples: I don’t want to shame you. You gave us a moment of levity, and I do appreciate it. In fact, I’d like to put a lot of the blame on your local government officials for not communicating the seriousness of the pandemic, and how much worse it might get. I instead implore you to be more aware of the example you’re setting and the influence you’ll have on people directly around you, and then the masses of people across the internet.

There is space to go viral and create entertaining content, while also being minimally considerate about COVID protocol. It just takes some creativity: Here’s your new viral challenge.

Until next time,


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